Joy for Wales, sorrow for N. Ireland

Late, undeserved own goal ends Northern Ireland's fine romance

RELIEF: Wales forward Hal Robson-Kanu (left) celebrating after an own goal by Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley (on ground).




(Gareth McAuley 75-og)


The problem with romance is it can break your heart.

And the manner of Northern Ireland's crushing, late defeat tore Irish hearts to shreds.

Gareth McAuley hadn't put a foot wrong all game. And then he did, horrendously so.

In his deepest dreams, the own goal will haunt him forever. 

He didn't deserve it and nor did the plucky Irish, but football really is the cruellest game.

With 15 minutes left on the clock and extra-time looming in the Round-of-16 clash this morning (Singapore time), Gareth Bale swung a devastating low cross from the left.

Until that moment, the pony-tailed prancer had been a peripheral figure, his impact negligible.

But the cross was vicious and McAuley, aware of the pressure around him, swung out a boot. 

The Irish had one foot in extra time. McAuley had one foot out of time and now his devastated teammates are out of the tournament.

Tears filled the terraces. The Welsh cried at reaching the quarter-finals of a major tournament for the first time since 1958.


Their opponents wept at what might have been.

Michael O'Neill's men, with half the talent and twice the tenacity, were so close, so desperately close to extending their run at Euro 2016 and giving their genuinely inspiring supporters the ending their devotion deserved.

France will desperately miss them and the party they brought to Parc des Princes long before kick-off. Welsh and Irish fans posed together for selfies, well lubricated certainly, but never belligerent.

Intriguingly, the stadium's vibrant colours replicated the respective populations of their two nations, with reds outnumbering greens by at least two to one.

A one-word din rolled down the stands, creating a blanket of noise that covered Parc des Princes, the confidence unmistakable.

Wales, Wales, Wales.

The Dragons were breathing fire before their bouncing boyos had even made it onto the pitch.

But if the Welsh brought the swagger, their opponents brought the salsa. The Irish danced in the stands from first minute to last, looking like a giggling, singing gang of green Teletubbies.

Sitting was optional throughout. It was standing room only.

Never mind the Battle of Britain. This was a battle of the bands.

Occasionally, between the musical intermissions, a game of football broke out.

Despite O'Neill's understandably conservative 4-5-1, the Irish mostly dominated, with Stuart Dallas forcing a smart save from Wayne Hennessey in the 10th minute.

Traditionally, Wales have laboured with the favourites tag and their opponents sensed their unease, pushing Jamie Ward forward to join Kyle Lafferty up front.

Hennessy's reflexes were again called upon to tip over Ward's rising drive midway through the first half, with Wales struggling to impose any authority and Bale a virtual passenger.

Northern Ireland essentially vandalised the Welsh engine room. Corry Evans displayed a limpet's tenacity, refusing to let Joe Allen go, constantly checking over his shoulder and tracking the Liverpool midfielder's runs.

Bale's horrendously over-hit free-kick, sailing over the heads of his teammates and out of play, summed up a tentative half for a side that struggled against Andorra in the qualifying campaign.

Chris Coleman's siege mentality is diluted somewhat when there is no siege.

With both nations favouring counter-attacking, there was, essentially, no attacking, with the game taking on the complexion of a mid-table English Premier League clash played out in the early season sunshine.

When the half-time whistle went, the fabulous Irish jig began again with aplomb, as if the sporadic outbreaks of football had somehow got in the way of the party.

On the pitch, both sides were seemingly engaged in an act of sabotage to prove that the expanded knockout stages really had diminished the tournament's quality.

The romantic narrative of the British underdog can only be stretched so far. At some point, the football must take precedence.

When Sam Vokes missed an open header from 12 metres, Coleman had seen enough, hauling him off for Hal Robson-Kanu.

The impact was almost immediate, with Bale resembling a legitimate threat for the first time, stinging Michael McGovern's palms with a swerving free-kick in the 58th minute.

But the Irish held on and the game threatened to drift aimlessly, rather tediously, towards extra-time.

And then McAuley's unfortunate boot killed the romance stone dead.

Denim summer

Summer style does not mean wearing little. A careful take on layering is one good way to style up a simple outfit.

Let's start with the evergreen denim jacket ($59) from Forever 21 as the key piece for layering your summer on a nautical note.

Set sail with one denim jacket in three styles.


A popular trend this summer is to go short - a high-waist option with a relax fit gives an illusion of a smaller waist. Work it with a long-sleeved boat neck striped top under your denim jacket.

Straw hat ($19) and linen shorts ($24) from Forever 21. Ray Ban aviator ($235) from Sunglass Hut.

Boat neck striped top ($29.90) from Uniqlo and bi-colour leather brogues ($329.90) from Ecco.


You can never go wrong withthe fuss-free option of pairing your denim jacket with basic denim jeans.

Ditch those heels and go for ankle boots to get that masculine look.

Long-sleeved denim shirt ($149) and yellow boots $249 from Timberland. April 77 indigo denim jeans ($179) from The Denim Store.


The polo dress, a twist from the classic polo T-shirt, is here to stay.

Freshen up by pairing it with a denim jacket. Less is more, so go without accessories except a scarf worn as headband.

Striped polo dress ($199) and lace up leather sneakers ($139) from Lacoste. Large scarf ($49) from Kipling.






Tags: Fashion, clothes and shoes

People - match & score

He wins for the first time

Man buys multiple copies of TNP daily to collect jerseys

HAPPY: Mr Chan Thim Poh was one of seven winners last night in the TNP Match & Score contest.

He says he has never won anything.

Determined to change that, Mr Chan Thim Poh, 41, bought at least four copies of The New Paper every day to gather the winning jerseys for the TNP Match & Score contest.

His efforts paid off yesterday when he walked away with $100 cash.

The quality control engineer told TNP: "The feeling of winning something really does feel good. I feel a mix of surprise and happiness."

Mr Chan said he will now double his efforts and buy twice as many copies.

"I really hope to win the jackpot," he said.

HAPPY: Mr Chan Thim Poh was one of seven winners last night in the TNP Match & Score contest. PHOTO: SPH MARKETING

Mr Chan was one of seven winners last night who each won $100.

For the contest, images of football jerseys, featuring either a number or a country, are printed in TNP from Monday to Thursday.

New printing technology allows every copy of TNP to feature a different combination of jerseys.

These jerseys can be collected to later match the winning combinations published in TNP from Friday to Sunday.

The jerseys are valid only for that particular week.


During those three days, there will be a daily jackpot prize of $1,000, which will snowball if it goes unclaimed.

As there was no jackpot prize winner today, the jackpot prize is now $3,000.

There will also be combinations for the $100 and $200 cash prizes.

Up to $31,000 can be won in the contest, which ends on July 10.

Winners must collect their prizes at the SPH News Centre at 1000, Toa Payoh North, between 8pm and 9pm on the same day.


22 rescued after boat capsizes

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Man assaulted after road accident

Victim goes to make police report, finds attackers are cops

SHOCK: The Malacca police station where the two alleged attackers worked.
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A tough act to follow

Japanese actor Shohei Miura delights crowd when he re-enacts scenes from his show with audience members

PLEASED: He also proposed to Rimana Mishima (above)and gave Ms Tracy Pang flowers for her birthday.
PLEASED: (Above) Japanese actor Shohei Miura removes ketchup from Ms Vernice Tan's neck.
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Confessions of a party bus driver
PRIDE: (From left) Mr Md Ali, 52; Mr Mohammad Yazid, 33, and Mr Aidi Zunaidi, 40.

The US may have its stretch limousines but party buses are Singaporeans' idea of an ostentatious and flamboyant night out.

Just ask Mr Mohammad Yazid, the 33-year-old driver of a minibus which has been retrofitted with the latest sound systems, a blinding LED- and laser-lit interior and yes, several smoke machines.

He has been at the wheel of a 13-seater Toyota Hiace for the past three years, ferrying revellers from club to club, bachelorettes on hen nights or partygoers at extravagant birthday bashes.

"We get looks from people all the time, from other drivers and pedestrians. It feels good," he says.

Mr Yazid is one of about 20 drivers from Unity Limo Party Bus Singapore, also known as Unity, one of a few companies that provide such limousine services here.

Nothing turns heads more than the laser trails, billowing smoke and loud music, he adds.

Rates for party buses start at around $75 for one-way transfers or $180 per hour, which is decent when the fare is split 12 ways.

Once, he drew gasps from children when he picked up a student from school, as his parents had planned it as a surprise birthday party for him.

But the majority of his passengers are expatriate partygoers or corporate clients, he says.

"I get such jobs about thrice a week, and some can last up to eight hours long," he tells The New Paper on Sunday.

There are caveats. Alcohol is not allowed to be sold by the drivers and smoking in the vehicle is not allowed.

Once, on a club crawl, Mr Yazid drove six obviously drunken ladies who stripped down to their undergarments and started dancing to the loud music.

One of them even asked him to spank her buttocks.

"I was so shocked, and I politely declined because it is my job to concentrate on the road and not be distracted," says Mr Yazid, who is married.

He laughs at the memory, adding that his wife also had initial concerns about the dangers in his job, since passengers do try to get the drivers to drink with them.


Mr Yazid says: "I had to reassure her that we are professionals, and we will never touch the alcohol."

By starting a service to ferry alcohol-fuelled revellers, the party bus drivers believe that they are keeping drunken motorists off the roads.

Mr Yazid has spent nearly $10,000 on cosmetic upgrades to his minibus, though there are other drivers who have sunk more money into what is arguably more of a hobby than a job.

As Unity functions more like a collective of passionate minibus drivers than a company, there is no standard layout for the vehicles. Each bus is designed according to the whims and fancies of the driver.

Of course, they also have to abide by regulations set by transport authorities, they say.

The pride among the bus drivers is evident, as is the friendly rivalry.

TNPS had asked to meet one driver but by the end of the interview, nine minibus drivers had turned up with their vehicles, eager to show the unique concepts of their cars.

One has a karaoke theme and comes with a pop-up 40-inch flat screen television. The driver of the vehicle, Mr Aidi Zunaidi, 40, spent nearly $20,000 on upgrades.

Mr Aidi jokes: "Some passengers have bad singing, but no choice, got to tolerate it. My trick is to turn down the volume a bit without them knowing."

He says that now and then, the drivers would gather at a random carpark to show off their newest modifications to the others.

But all the drivers vote that the most elaborate party bus belongs to Mr Md Ali, the 52-year-old driver who started this trend here in 2007.

Although he denies it, the others say his minibus pumps out the loudest sounds, the brightest light shows and the most smoke.

He is believed to be the first to come up with the idea after he realised that several pub owners needed a service to drive drunken partygoers home safely.

"A few decided to copy my idea, and the trend grew from one party bus to around 30 today," says Mr Ali.

"All of us here are doing this because we are against drink driving. We let our passengers enjoy the experience without hurting anybody."


  1. Always abide by the law. The sale of alcohol and smoking in the vehicle is strictly forbidden and breaking these rules can incur sizeable fines.
  2. Make sure you agree on the rate before you set off. Some customers may try to bargain aggressively when they are drunk.
  3. Be diligent and check your minibus for damage after each job. Vomiting in the vehicle, or damaging equipment or lights comes with a fee.

She provides overnight pet-sitting service

PET LOVER: Miss Diane Yue Hui Hui has been a pet-sitter since early last year.

Although there are pet hotels, some pet owners prefer to have their pets cared for in their own homes by a pet-sitter.

Miss Diane Yue Hui Hui, 31, is a pet-sitter with Pawshake, a San Francisco-based website that links pet-sitters with pet owners.

At $20 per house visit, which lasts between 30 minutes and two hours, Miss Yue goes to the client's house to feed and clean the pet.

Sometimes, for $100, she even stays the night to provide in-home pet care, or house-sitting.

She says it is a popular option for people who own pets with medical conditions and anxiety issues - shy, unsociable and aggressive animals do better at home.

And while many Asians are not keen to have strangers staying in their homes, Mr Tanguy Peers, co-founder of Pawshake, says the mindset is changing.

He says: "Singaporeans are getting familiar with the 'sharing economy', like Airbnb, and are getting comfortable with the system.

"Singapore accounts for 20 per cent of Pawshake's revenue, and the market is growing rapidly."

Miss Yue, who works as a realtor, chose to be a part-time pet-sitter as she feels it is a good opportunity for her own dog to have companions.


She adds that some clients are tricky to deal with at first, saying: "Singaporeans tend to be more cautious, and they ask more questions about my background. Some even request for a copy of my NRIC, and they install closed-circuit television cameras in their homes."

But she has noticed a shift.

"People are opening up and learning how to trust, especially the younger generation," she says.

PET LOVER: Miss Diane Yue Hui Hui has been a pet-sitter since early last year. PHOTO: DIANE YUE HUI HUI

Miss Yue, who has been a Pawshake pet-sitter since early last year, says her best experience was a three-night "holiday" at a Holland Road penthouse stocked with pre-cooked meals.

"The owners are American expatriates, and they told me to treat it like a vacation. It truly felt like a resort vacation, and I got to bond with the dog and teach her new commands and tricks," she says.

"I always strive to do a good job and to exceed expectations because nothing beats word-of-mouth referrals.

"I am happy when meaningful friendships are formed from the work I do."

Clients get full spa experience at home

Mobile businesses set up shop at clients' homes for their convenience

The co-founder of The Outcall Spa, Ms Stella Tan (right), and one of the massage therapists, Flora.

An injury at home prevented Ms Chong Li Yuen from going for her regular massage.

But that incident last September sparked an idea - a mobile massage service that provides a full spa experience in the client's home.

She tells The New Paper on Sunday: "In-home spa and massage service are common in Western countries, but you cannot find a reputable one here."

The 36-year-old decided to rope in a friend for the business venture.

Together with Ms Stella Tan, 35, owner of an interior design firm, they figured the business needed drivers, therapists and vans to transport equipment including a massage bed, towels, essential oils and even ginger tea.

Their only experience with massage techniques was what they had received as customers.

But when the duo launched The Outcall Spa in April, it was immediately popular. It receives an average of six appointments daily and double that on a good day.

Ms Tan says: "We didn't expect such a huge response, so we had to advertise to hire not just more manpower but the right people to represent the company."

To sieve out the good from the bad, Ms Tan tried out the massage therapists.

The Outcall Spa brings the spa straight to you, providing quality massage in the comfort of your own home. TNP PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

"We had 50 to 60 people interviewing for the job, and Stella ended up receiving a lot of free massages," says Ms Chong.

The pair now hire eight employees - four are therapists, and the rest are drivers and customer service staff.


Ms Tan says: "Since this is a mobile business, there is no limit on scalability. The more staff we employ, the more appointments we can take."

The Outcall Spa is a hit among people with erratic schedules.

Mr Victor Cui, 44, a chief executive officer, is a regular customer. He travels three to four days a week and is often home only late at night. With The Outcall Spa, he manages to have his massages even at 11pm.

Says Mr Cui: "I book an appointment once a week, and once the massage ends at 1am, I can walk a few steps to my bedroom and fall asleep immediately."